The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: Al Carbon

Five Finds on Friday: Francesca Black

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Francesca Black, chef of Continental Divide, which has been closed for two weeks after water damage related to Hurricane Michael, but is poised to re-open next week. Black’s picks:

1) Late Night Burger with a Salty Dog at C & O. “I usually get fixated on one aspect or one ingredient of a dish so, for me, an exceptional food experience happens when that fixation isn’t easy to discern — a temporary whirlwind sets in because it is that good. C&O late night does that for me. I am rarely free during regular dinner hours, so after work we sometimes head over for that divine burger. The crispy bun, the crunchy lettuce, that perfect first bite. It all becomes complete with their salty dog, the delicious classic with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and a salted rim. It’s a great way to end a long work day.”

2) Masala Dosa from Desi Dosa with Turmeric Lassi from Planet Earth Diversified at the City Market. “If I can make it Saturday morning, the City Market rules. I love the Southern Indian vendor Desi Dosa. They focus on letting the intensity of their spices speak for themselves in simple dishes like the masala dosa, a thin stuffed pancake. Speaking of bold spice, the turmeric lassi from Planet Earth Diversified really wakes you up and goes great with spicy the food.”

3) Octopus Tempura and Hot Sake at Now & Zen. “Although hard to choose food favorites, octopus is absolutely up there, and when tempura fried, it’s a whole different level! I could eat Now & Zen’s octopus tempura everyday — it’s perfectly fried, salted and served with spicy mayo. Then with some hot sake — enough said.”

4) Half Chicken and Green Rice with Aji Sauce at Al Carbon. “I was definitely late to the game to visit Al Carbon on 29 but a friend got some take out one night, let me taste it, and I was instantly hooked. The flavors, especially in the homemade sauces, are unbelievable. I like to get the half chicken, break it up into the green rice and cover it in aji sauce, their medium, garlicky wonder.”

5) Fried Chicken and/or Meta’s Burger with Crushed Ice Soda at Mel’s Cafe. “Of all the delicious restaurants in Charlottesville, I think Mel’s might take the cake. Mel’s cures a bad day and makes a good day that much better. I can never choose between the chicken or Meta’s burger, both of which instantly fuel a tingling sensation even at the thought. Continental is so close, too –we are very proud and lucky to have them as our neighbors!”

Introducing Chew Chew Town

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UPDATE (2/12/2018): After a trial run, Chew Chew Town has postponed its full opening. Stay tuned for further updates. 

One of Charlottesville’s most beloved restaurants just got even better. Introducing Chew Chew Town, a new restaurant from the kitchen of Al Carbon. The plan for Chew Chew Town has long been in the works, say Al Carbon owners Claudio and Myriam Hernandez, who have always dreamed of a train-themed restaurant. But, they never had enough space to realize their vision.

They do now.

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Chew Chew Town will serve food by rail. Take your seat at the counter, place your order, and wait for the train to deliver it. While you wait, try out the train whistle on the wall, study the elaborate train set display, or just watch the toy train circulate overhead. When your order is ready, the train car will stop in front of you with your food.

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In addition to a Little Conductor’s menu of hot dogs, burgers, and grilled cheese, Chew Chew Town will offer four varieties of “Loading Dock Nachos” (choriqueso, tinga, picadillo, or slow-corked pork), as well as burritos, salads, and empanadas. Full menu here.

Myriam is a former Montessori teacher (yay, Frost!) who loves children, and Claudio, of course, loves trains. In addition to a family-friendly destination for lunch and dinner, they expect that their new spot will be a natural fit for children’s birthday parties. And, they’ve already got that covered.

Chew Chew Town will be located at 1877 Seminole Trail, right next door to Al Carbon. Follow along on their Facebook page for more details and updates.

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Five Finds on Friday: Daniel Kaufman

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Daniel Kaufman of Public Fish & Oyster, now home to one of the best happy hours in town, 4-6 pm every day. Besides special food items like lobster rolls, there are great deals on wine, beer, and classic cocktails like negronis. “Lots of people know about our lobster rolls being offered during happy hour,” says Kaufman, “but the clam strip roll our chef Gregg has worked into the menu is probably the best sandwich I have ever had (bias aside).” Kaufman’s picks:

1) Boquerones at MAS Tapas and Parallel 38. “Perhaps it is cheating a bit to mention two places here, but I love what both restaurants do with these perfect little fishes. Mas takes a traditional approach serving these vinegar-and-olive-oil marinated white anchovies with lemon and garlic. P38 takes them in a different direction adding a touch of Maras red pepper which adds a welcome hint of spice. Either way, they are probably my favorite snack food.”

2) Xiao Long Bao (Steamed Pork Soup Dumplings) at Taste of China. “I am a dumpling junkie, and was so happy to see someone local doing real Soup Dumplings. Taste of China serves them perfectly steamed and filled with the most delicious molten-lava-hot broth just waiting to scald the hell out of your mouth. Every bit worth the pain involved.”

3) Scallion Bubble Pancakes at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “The first time I saw these delivered to a table, I thought it was the most ridiculous looking dish I had ever seen. Two basketball-sized balls of fried dough served alongside some brownish-yellowish sauce. I was in love the first time I had them. You have to eat them before they get cold and when you do, they have the most amazing chewy texture that comes to life when dipped in the sweet curry sauce served along side.”

4) Mexican Street Corn at Al Carbon. “Street corn has shown up on countless menus in the last year, but I haven’t tasted one that tops these guys. They make theirs with fresh cotija cheese and a spicy/sweet mayonnaise concoction and finish it with a hint of lime juice which adds the perfect hint of acidity to the creamy sauce. The perfect accompaniment to their amazing chicken.”

5) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “This is the best salad I have ever had, and I know I’m not alone on this one. Dates, apple, arugula, watermelon radish, fennel, toasted breadcrumbs. Sweet, bitter, crunchy, tart, creamy all works together harmoniously. I’d happily go vegetarian if I got to eat this every day of my life.”